Light powers a spectrum of sounds at New York’s Wave Farm

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A short radio tower surrounded by solar cells stands in a clearing of pine forest at the northern foot of the Catskill Mountains. When the sun rises, solar cells power an artificial intelligence that records and reinterprets natural sounds found in the meadows of eastern New York state and broadcasts them to the internet and his FM radio station.

SunCommon installed a 48.6 kW rooftop solar system on top of Wave Farm’s study center.The building was the residence of a resident broadcast artist, broadcast studio, and now powers the entire site.Patrick McCormack/Suncommon

solar radiois one of several solar-powered installations by Wave Farm, an Accra, New York organization pioneering the aural medium of communicative arts. Spread across 29 acres, Wave Farm explores the boundaries of experimental wireless transmission through 12 installations that create sounds from sources such as sunlight, weather patterns, and traffic and synthesize them into entirely new audio. .

“Actually, what we are talking about is the art of deliberate use of the electromagnetic spectrum, and radio is one of seven categories. It’s starting to take off,” said Galen Joseph-Hunter, executive director of Wave Farm. “But it’s really about sending and receiving, and the act of communication. It’s just radio art, and you can think of it as art made specifically for radio broadcasting.”

While many of these transmitting art installations operate from individual solar panels, the plan has always been to power all of Wavefarm’s grid-connected facilities with solar, including a wireless transmitting tower on a separate subdivision. For ten years, Joseph-Hunter researched solar installations, talked to contractors and peers, and finally decided to bring PV to Wave Farm when it became financially feasible. I found an installer who can install it.

“It uniquely ties in three ways our concern for economic sustainability, ecological environmental responsibility, and the artistic mission of the organization with its incredible impact,” said Joseph Hunter. .

Send solar to all radios

Wave Farm started in 1997 as an artist collective operating an experimental music venue and micro radio station in Brooklyn. Seven years later the group moved to the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley has a history of embracing the arts, and Wave Farm also runs a community FM radio station called WGXC.

Wave Farm maintains off-site radio transmission towers, which are powered by renewable energy credits generated by the site’s rooftop array.Patrick McCormack/Suncommon

The organization broke ground on the study center in 2006 and completed the facility in 2012. The Study Center houses resident artist residences, a research library, broadcast studios and offices and was purpose built to host Wave Farm’s much-anticipated facilities. solar project. In 2021, Wave Farm Signs Northeast Solar Installer suncommon Design and construct a 48.6 kW array in the building.

Tavit Guedelekian, Integrated Marketing Director at SunCommon, said: “It’s nice to save money, but it shouldn’t just be a margin move. They built that building with the intention of being solar. It’s clearly a part of us as well.”

Despite the original intention to hold the solar panels, the study center needed some reinforcement to do so. The structural beams that support the roof span the 26-foot length of the building and are stressed further by the addition of sunlight, so the installers reinforced them with plywood plywood and vertical posts near the ceiling.

The roof of the study center is one pitch covered with corrugated metal that closely resembles a sine wave. SunCommon installers were building arrays over the winter while battling icy roofs, snow, and rain. They lifted the equipment up to the roof with his 60-foot boom his lift, and once the ice slid off, the hardware was safely moved.

SunCommon installed 108 LG 450-W panels at the same 7° pitch as the roof of the study center, covering approximately 90% of its surface. The array uses four 10 kW SolarEdge string inverters and optimizers and an S-5. CorruBracket metal roof mounts and SnapNrack rails.

The system is used to power grid-connected electrical loads on site, including study centers and transmission sculptures, and to cover the electrical loads of Wave Farm radio towers on separate sites through remote net metering. Sized to generate enough renewable energy credits.

“Symbiosis” partnership

suncommon is a small commercial and residential solar installer that began in Waterbury, Vermont and recently merged with Hudson Solar in Rhinebeck, New York. The company is a certified B Corporation, participates in local solar advocacy, and established the Climate Action Film Festival in 2020.

“Pond Station” is one of several solar-powered transmission art installations that predates Wave Farm’s onsite array. The “Pond Station” transmits the underwater sound of this pond with a waterproof microphone.Patrick McCormack/Suncommon

“We didn’t really know about it until we started talking,” says Joseph Hunter, “but it became very clear that it was a symbiotic relationship.” I wanted to join Wave Farm as a whole.”

SunCommon produced a video series about Wave Farm, showcasing its facility, transmission art installation and new solar project. The solar contractor is also an underwriter for Wave Farm and regularly donates to the organization.

Although there are no transmitted art sculptures emitting sound directly from SunCommon’s solar installations, there are devices on site that react to electromagnetic activity.

A place like Wave Farm, where art is the object, is a rare project for a solar contractor. Solar has the same effect on department store rooftops. In the art collective, underwater microphones record the sounds of a pond, synthesizers hum along with changing weather, and pipes project radio opera into a pine forest.

“I think there’s a little bit of synergy or poetry in the fact that the entire campus is powered by these light waves that are being converted into energy by small installations on campus,” Guedelekian said. . “The next 20 to 25 years he will go through that space and all the artists and researchers that use that campus will also be working with solar waves. That’s it.”

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